Monthly Archives: September 2009

Concert for Darwin in Dover

Concert for Darwin

Concert for Darwin

OUR clandestine operative [whose initials are L.L.] stationed in Dover, Pennsylvania, site of the famous case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, gave us a copy of this press release, which we present to you as a public service:

For Immediate Release
Oct. 1, 2009

Concert for Darwin Rocks Out For Origin of Species

HARRISBURG – Next month marks the 150th Anniversary of the publishing of Origin of Species, Charles Darwin’s seminal work that revolutionized the scientific world.

To celebrate the anniversary, The Friends of Kitzmiller v. Dover are hosting a Concert for Darwin at 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 7.

Because, as evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

The music fest will be at the newly reopened Midtown Scholar, the largest academic used-book store between New York and Chicago, at 1302 Third St. in Harrisburg.

Darwin was much more than just one of the world’s greatest thinkers. He was also a man guided by great passion and creativity and a great lover of music. Which is why Friends of Kitzmiller want to celebrate his life with a concert.

The event is also being held in conjunction with the four-year anniversary of the local Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, in which federal Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design was merely repackaged creationism and therefore violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

Featured at the event will be Vancouver-based rap-lit artist Baba Brinkman, whose performance of “Rap Guide to Evolution” won the coveted Scotsman Fringe First Award in Edinburgh Scotland’s prestigious Fringe Festival.

As a special treat, biologist, science author and Brown University professor Ken Miller, whose testimony as the Dover plaintiffs’ lead science expert led to some of the trial‘s most powerful moments, will be giving a talk about Darwin and his legacy and how it inspired him.

Also performing will be Jefferson Pepper, whose recent CD release American Evolution, which was inspired by the Kitzmiller trial, reached No. 9 on the Euro Americana chart.

Special guests will perform selected readings from Origin of Species. [Eugenie Scott from the National Center for Science Education will be one of the readers.]

The Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union’s South-Central Chapter is helping to sponsor the event.

Tickets are $15 and can be ordered on line. For more information on Concert for Darwin, or to order tickets, go to: Concert for Darwin or call 717-938-4332.

What: Concert for Darwin

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7

Where: Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 Third St. Harrisburg, PA 17102 (Across from the Broad Street Market)

Tickets: $15 in advance

Media Contact: Lauri Lebo 717-577-8327

Source: Friends of Kitzmiller v. Dover

Editor’s Note: Performers are available for interviews.

In case you missed it, the concert’s website is Concert for Darwin.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationism in Toledo, Ohio Mayor’s Race

THIS news comes from The Blade, a daily newspaper in Toledo, Ohio: Toledo mayoral candidates speak on their faith. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Toledo’s two mayoral candidates stuck to safe positions last night when it came to religion in Toledo, expressing belief in Christianity yet promising to govern from a premise of tolerance, in the first live television debate of the general election.

Stay with us; their “safe positions” get interesting. Let’s read on:

Democrat Keith Wilkowski and independent Mike Bell were interviewed by The Blade’s religion editor, David Yonke, in the studios of WLMB-TV, Channel 40, on Angola Road. Mr. Wilkowski and Mr. Bell were the top finishers in the Sept. 15 primary and will face off Nov. 3.

Okay, here it comes:

One area of apparent disagreement was whether schools should be required to teach both sides of the origin of the universe — the scientific view of evolution and intelligent design based on the Genesis story of creation.

That’s a peculiar question. Your Curmudgeon isn’t familiar with the evolution view of the origin of the universe, and we suspect that the Discovery Institute would deny that intelligent design is based on Genesis, but let’s continue with the article to see where the candidates stand on this vital issue of municipal governance:

Mr. Bell said he believes “God created the Earth and made man in his likeness,” and said for fairness reasons, both sides should be taught.

Ah, Mr. Bell wants to teach both sides. That’s hard-core creationism. And his opponent’s position?

Mr. Wilkowski said he believes in the divine origin of the universe, but also in evolution. He said intelligent design should be taught by parents and pastors if they believe it, but not by public school teachers.

Aha! He “believes in” evolution. Here’s more:

They also differed slightly in their beliefs, if not in how they would govern, on marriage.

Mr. Bell, a bachelor, said his definition of marriage is “typically a man and a woman,” but he said his beliefs would not conflict with enforcing the city’s domestic partnership registry.

Mr. Wilkowski, who has been married 30 years, described marriage as a vow and sacrament between two people, and said that should be open to same-sex as well as traditional couples. He said the domestic partnership registry, which is run by city council, is an attempt to allow people to take advantage of benefits in the private sector and he was in support.

Mr. Bell, the full-blown creationist, says he’s okay with “domestic partnerships” which seems somewhat tolerant, although he’s apparently not in favor of same-sex marriage. His opponent, who believes in evolution and who doesn’t want creationism in public schools, accepts same-sex marriage. We can see the battle-lines shaping up. Moving along:

Neither claimed to believe that every word of the Bible is intended literally, with Mr. Bell pointing out that some of it is the words of the Apostles, not God.

Mr. Bell is an unusual creationist. And his opponent’s position?

Mr. Wilkowski said the Bible is “the inspired word of God.”

That’s a nice, safe answer.

The article goes on about their views on abortion, the identity and nature of Jesus, and other issues. Click over to The Blade and read it all, if you’re interested.

We have only one question: Are these guys running for the office of mayor, or preacher?

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Spencer Iowa School Board Update (30 Sep ‘09)

WHEN we last reported on creationist events in the happy, pastoral town of Spencer, Iowa a month ago, we left things dangling a bit.

As you recall, this story started back in July. The Spencer school board, led by two local worthies — one a preacher (Barbara Van Wyk), the other a pharmacist (David Schlichtemeier) — were working on what they imagined was a brilliant plan for their public schools to teach the bible and to criticize evolution. They had been motivated by Darwin’s Black Box, a creationist book by Michael Behe. But at the end of August, we reported:

Spencer school officials will throw out a Bible class and discard a critique of evolutionary theory to avoid being sued over the district’s proposed “religious liberties” policy.

We also reported that:

A second crack at the policy will be scrutinized by attorneys, teachers and other groups before it’s made public in September, Superintendent Greg Ebeling said.

Others may have forgotten about Spencer, but we’ve been watching for developments. We’re writing this on the last day of September, so what’s the deal?

Our world-wide network of clandestine operatives has nothing to tell us — but that too is news. You see, dear reader, your Curmudgeon not only informs you about what’s happening with The Controversy between evolution and creationism — we also report about what’s not happening. No one can give you more comprehensive coverage than that.

So we checked out the website of Spencer School Board, where minutes of their meetings are available online. There we found the Board’s minutes from 22 Sep ’09, where we read:

Superintendent Ebeling presented plaques to retiring board members Dave Schlichtemeier, Ed VerSteeg, and Barb VanWyk. Superintendent Ebeling thanked the retiring members for their years of service and dedication to the Spencer Community School District.

What does this mean? We don’t really know, but now that the principal movers behind the creationism initiative are no longer on the board, it’s likely that the revised initiative which had been anticipated for September probably isn’t going to materialize. However — although this isn’t much of a cliffhanger — September isn’t yet over as we’re writing this. Something might happen today, but there’s no agenda at the Board’s website. It looks to us like it’s all over.

For the remaining members of the Board, we have a suggestion. At the website of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), there’s an article about a new book: Religion in the Public Schools, with “detailed information about the law governing religion and the public schools,” which includes:

Chapter 4: A Road Map for Avoiding Lawsuits and Respecting Parents’ Legal Rights

NCSE recommends the book, so we’ll recommend it to the Spencer School Board. They may not need it now, but it won’t hurt to have it on hand.

And so, dear reader, we take our leave of Spencer, Iowa. It’s been fun, but The Controversy seems to have moved on. The good folks of Spencer probably don’t know how fortunate they are.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Barbara Forrest Exposes Louisiana Creationists


Dr. Barbara Forrest, a star witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, has been waging an almost single-handed campaign for science and reason in Louisiana. She’s been working tirelessly — alas, to no avail so far — first against the passage, and now against the implementation of Louisiana’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” bill modeled after the so-called Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

We gave you a bit of recent news about the deplorable events in that creationist state a couple of weeks ago: Louisiana Creationism: Wolves Guarding Sheep. But now Barbara has issued a press release that blows the lid off of the secret, behind-the-scenes intrigue and maneuvering going on in her state. You can read about it at her website, Louisiana Coalition for Science, here: For Immediate Release: Creationists Continue to Dictate BESE Science Education Policy. This is an information-filled article.

Barbara has flipped over the flat rock and exposed the squirming creatures beneath. She names names and takes no prisoners. Here are a few excerpts, with bold added by us:

On September 16, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE] ignored the recommendations of science education professionals in the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) and allowed the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a Religious Right lobbying group, to dictate the procedure concerning complaints about creationist supplementary materials used in public school science classes under the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). … As a result, the prerogatives of the DOE professional science education staff have been severely undermined, as explained below. The audiotape of the meeting shows that Bayard and the LFF pulled off a royal snow job at this meeting.

LFF director Rev. Gene Mills, whose own children do not attend public schools, attended the meeting but did not speak. Among the creationists testifying was University of Louisiana-Lafayette professor John W. Oller, Jr., who is a member of the “Technical Advisory Board” of the young-earth creationist Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, Texas. … Also testifying at the September 16 meeting was Charles Voss, vice-president of the creationist Origins Resource Association, who attempted in 1994 to persuade the Livingston Parish School Board to adopt a creationist curriculum guide. … [Another witness was] Wade Warren, a creationist at Louisiana College who works cooperatively with the Discovery Institute (DI), the creationist think tank in Seattle, WA, that helped write the LSEA.


In short, as BESE’s complaint procedure is now drafted, DOE’s expert reviewers will be in the minority, and DOE staff will not be allowed to independently assess the reviewers’ reports but must instead transfer the reports directly to BESE for evaluation. Judging from BESE members’ consistent concessions to LFF creationists concerning the implementation of the LSEA, their evaluations will be unlikely to favor scientific expertise and professionalism. On the contrary, BESE’s actions since the passage of the LSEA indicate that the board will rubber-stamp anything that Bayard and the LFF recommend. The approved procedure will enable creationists and their allies to turn every complaint about creationist materials into a dog and pony show that they can manipulate and exploit.


The passage of the LSEA — and BESE’s subsequent adoption of whatever policies the creationists at the LFF dictate — have damaged Louisiana’s already tarnished image in the rest of the country. In fact, these actions have done tangible harm to the state. In February 2009, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) notified Gov. Jindal that the SICB will hold its 2011 convention in Utah rather than New Orleans because of his signing the LSEA. SICB will boycott Louisiana as long as the LSEA remains on the books.

That’s only a sample. Here’s a link to the actual press release: Creationists Continue to Dictate BESE Science Education Policy (pdf file).

Barbara’s article and press release are required reading for those interested in science education. Don’t be misled into thinking that Louisiana is a small, hopelessly backward state, and what happens there is of no importance elsewhere. That state is being used as a testing ground for a nationwide theocratic effort to literally undo the Enlightenment. If the creationists’ schemes to reverse the progress of the last ten generations are successful in Louisiana, they’ll be deployed elsewhere. So pay attention.

Good work, Barbara! Now let’s hope your press release gets the press attention it deserves.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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